Appealing to Sense and Sensibility: System 1 and System 2 Interventions for Fake News on Social Media
33 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 19, 2018
Misinformation on social media—commonly called “fake news”—has become a major concern around the world, and many fact-checking initiatives have been launched to mitigate the problem. The way fact-checking results are presented to social media users is important because if the presentation format is not persuasive, fact checking may have little effect. Facebook implemented fact-checking in 2017 but concluded that flagging dubious articles had no effect on users’ beliefs and subsequently removed the feature. We conducted an experiment with 397 social media users to investigate two different approaches to designing a fake flag, one designed to trigger automatic cognition (System 1) and the other, deliberate cognition (System 2). We found that both interventions were effective, and an intervention that combined both approaches was about twice as effective. We also found that awareness training on the meaning of the flags increased the effectiveness of the System 2 flag, but not the System 1 flag, exactly as theory predicts. Believability, in turn, influenced the extent to which users would engage with the article (e.g., read, like, comment, and share). Our results suggest that both theoretical routes can be used—separately or together—in the presentation of fact-checking results to social media users. These interventions can nudge users to evaluate articles more critically and make more informed decisions when interacting with them.
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